Nicholas Sarkozy’s dramatic criminal interrogation last week shows once again that the politics of the
French Republic remain waist-deep in sewage. It was also an affront and humiliation of a former – and would be future – French president.
Sarkozy was picked up from his
Paris home before eight
AM and whisked off to a police and judicial center in the outskirts of the capitol. He was subjected to 15 hours of intensive questioning, then taken at two
AM to be arraigned (‘mis en examen’) for possible corruption and perversion of justice.
Sarkozy the next day, insisting he was being humiliated and persecuted by leftwing political enemies in the judiciary. He may have been right. Such
Stasi-like treatment of a former president was unprecedented and unnecessary. It was revealed that
Sarkozy’s cell phone had been tapped by magistrates for over a year. What was going on?
The former president is accused of improperly using his influence by offering favors to two senior magistrates to find out details in an explosive 2007 case of illegal campaign financing. The late
Khadaffi claimed before his murder by
French-linked insurgents that he had secretly given
Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential campaign $68 million. Khadaffi knew too much…and was talking.
As the pirates used to say, dead men tell no tales.
This case, now under intense investigation, could blow up and wreck what had until now appeared
Sarkozy’s likely re-election in 2017. He remains the most leading candidate of the center-right while the current
French Socialist president,
Francois Hollande, is so miserably unpopular he couldn’t get elected as a dog catcher. Hollande’s popularity rating is 16% and falling. Amazingly, the disgraced
Dominique Strauss-Kahn (aka
DSK) is now better regarded by the
French public than the wretched
As I watched
Sarkozy being carted off by the police, I wondered, could this be payback by the left for the honey-trap that ended the career of former
International Monetary Fund director and
Socialist bigwig, the notoriously oversexed
Strauss-Kahn, was charged with attempting to rape an
African maid in a
New York hotel.
The case smelled of a frame up concocted by
Strauss-Kahn’s enemies on the right, probably with help from an intelligence service. Strauss-Kahn was arrested, humiliated, and jailed. After a lurid trial, he finally beat the rap, but not before his political reputation was ruined and his quest for
France’s presidency derailed. But for this tawdry case,
Strauss-Kahn would likely have been elected president of
France in 2012, sparing the republic the unloved
French darkly suspected
Sarkozy was behind the plot against
Sarko has been up to his ears in scandal for a decade. He was recently acquitted of “abuse of the elderly” after being charged with taking envelopes of cash from
France’s richest woman, the senile l’Oréal heiress,
Lillian Betancourt. He faces other illegal fund-raising charges.
Another nasty case hounds
Sarkozy involving kickbacks on a major submarine contract to
Pakistan in which a number of
French technicians were killed – allegedly after bribes to
Pakistani politicians went unpaid. At the time,
Sarkozy was chief campaign fund raiser for then presidential candidate
Sarkozy is still popular on the right, there is little personal sympathy for him. In the waspish words of
Francophobe Daily Mail,
Sarko is a “French peacock married to a super model (Carla
Bruni) who lives like a king.” Indeed, the
Sarkozys have castles, magnificent country estates and yachting trips. Their jet-setting and love of gaudy excess has given
Sarko the sobriquet, “president
Bling.” The short, hyperactive, half
Jewish, 5’5” Sarko is hardly the traditionally elegant, regal
French admire. Napoleon was even taller than
Sarko. But he has more energy than all his opponents combined.
France’s problem with political sleaze stems in good part because its overly restrictive campaign laws cause presidential candidates to solicit “black” funds, then conceal them.
In the past, the
French government oil company
Total was a favorite piggy bank for politicians. So, too, the dictators of former
French West Africa. At
French election time, they were expected to deliver bags of cash to the
French candidates in exchange for future favors or carte blanche from human rights problems.
All of this financial and political sleaze was shrugged off by most
French –at least until now. The establishment
French media kept most of the scandals under wraps. In
Britain, they would have been front-page screamer headlines.
The brusque way
Sarko was handled was wrong. But the crimes of which he and his cronies are accused are extremely grave, defiling the honor of
France and its republican governments. They must be investigated and, if appropriate, prosecuted. Not a day too soon as the
Fifth Republic crumbles.
EricMargolis.com by permission of author or representative)